Scripture Reading: Acts 23: 6- But perceiving that one group were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the Council, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” As he said this, there occurred a dissension between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. And there occurred a great uproar; and some of the scribes of the Pharisaic party stood up and began to argue heatedly, saying, “We find nothing wrong with this man; suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” And as a great dissension was developing, the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by them and ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks. But on the night immediately following, the Lord stood at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.”
1Cor.12:7 - But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spiritfor the common good.For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
In these verses you find reference to the word, “S/spirit” seven times. There are two differences in these references: Six times the word is capitalized and once it is not. Six times the word is singular and once it is plural. The capitalized references are referring to the Holy Spirit. The non-capitalized reference is referring to spirits other than the Holy Spirit. First conclusion: There is more to the S/spirit realm than just the Spirit of God. If there was no spirit in the universe except the Holy Spirit there would be absolutely no need for this gift of discerning or distinguishing of spirits.
Let me take you to two conversations Jesus had with two very different people. The first is during the dark of the night and involves a high-ranking Pharisee, Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. To a very confused and perplexed teacher of the law Jesus, who was never confused, said this: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
The second conversation involved a woman on the other end of the social spectrum, and took place on a well curb. Among other things the subject was worship and concerning that Christ revealed the absolute core of true authentic worship: “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is S/spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.”
Notice that in both of these conversations we have reference to Spirit (capital S) and to spirit(non-capital s). Not that I think this is a great mystery to us but all of this is somewhat clarified from the book of beginnings. Gen. 2:7 – And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Without analyzing this to death I think we can safely take away from this that man made in the image of God – like God – is triune in being; a trinity of body, soul and spirit in a perfect unity of one. Regarding this, the apostle Paul prayed this prayer: 1 Thes.5:3 – Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the greatest and most freeing moments of my life was when I discovered that the Biblical meaning of sanctification did not even remotely reflect what I had been taught. Without reciting the negative, let me relate the core meaning of the word sanctify. To say that sanctification means ‘to be set apart’ is accurate but not complete. To be set apart means that we have been set apart from something. And yet this is still not complete. To be set apart from something means that we have been set apart unto something else – usually the very opposite of what we are being set apart from. I really love thinking of sanctification in this way: It is an ongoing movement in which two things are happening at the same time; I am being set apart from and simultaneously being set apart unto.
The word ‘preserve’ comes from a Greek word meaning: ‘a watch; to set a guard so as to protect from loss or injury by keeping the eye upon.’ Quite literally then, God has His eye upon you and His plan of sanctification involves everything from your spirit to your skin. And if we bring this into the issue of worship it becomes clear that true worship cannot be relegated to one aspect of our being but involves the whole and entirety of our being - spirit, soul and body. Worship is not dependent upon the external BUT it encompasses the external, manifest in the external and impacts upon the external.
Coming back to the point of this message it is clear that in addition to the Holy Spirit there is also the human spirit. I do not believe that man lost his spirit in the fall. Death does not mean eradication; death is separation. In the fall the union between the spirit of man and the Spirit of God was broken. The spirit was still present within man but no longer joined to the Spirit of God.
That’s what the conversation between Christ and Nicodemus was all about – the regeneration, the re-birthing of the spirit of man. The Holy Spirit Himself rebirths the spirit of man and restores it to union with God. Thus the Bible tells us that, ‘But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.’ That means that for everyone in this house who is truly born again, your spirit right now is as joined with the Spirit of God as it is ever going to be. Notice what I did not say: I did not say that our present awareness of and sensitivity to the Spirit is as full and complete as it is ever going to be. When it comes to that it’s a matter of growth, maturity and development – but the joining is eternally done.
Regarding the realm of the spirit, we now know that there is the Spirit of God and there is the human spirit. Without citing all the Biblical texts it is clear from scripture that before the material universe was created there already existed a whole invisible universe of spirit beings. This is known as the angelic order; and please note, that in that universe there is perfect order and precision of rank and function and role. When God finally revealed Himself to Job, the whole download began with this: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? ”On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Depending upon the source, both of these references (the morning stars & the sons of God) refer to the angelic world. Some suggest that “morning stars” does not, but certainly almost all agree that “sons of God” does. Regardless of that it still remains that as the Creator God brought forth the material, physical universe it was accompanied with and took place in an atmosphere of loud worship described in the words – ‘shouted for joy.’
We now know that the spirit realm is made up of the Spirit of God, the angelic world and the human spirit. Concerning that angelic realm the Bible tells us that pride found entry into it and manifested in rebellion against the throne of God. One third of the angelic order was tainted by this and in the words of Jude: ‘And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode….’ That one third portion of the angelic world that fell in the rebellion is known Biblically as the demonic realm. Here then is the spirit realm: God who is Spirit; angels, demons and human spirits.
Here are some scripture references to validate that:
Human spirit: Mary said, “And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. ” It is written of Christ: Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said,…’ Rom.1:9 – For God, whom I serve in myspirit…’ Rom.8:16 – The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God. 1Cor.14:2 – My spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. Gal.6:18 – The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.
Demonic realm: Lk.4:33 – In the synagogue there was a man possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice…’
Acts 19:11 – God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out. But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
Angelic realm: Heb.1:14 – But to which of the angels has He ever said, “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies A footstool for Your feet”? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?
All of this comes down to a very obvious question – or perhaps a two part question. Does that realm of the S/spirit have any influence upon the material order? And why are we so conflicted with that idea?